Heitkamp thanks Good Samaritans

Senator pens letter to ‘heroes’ who rescued couple from burning house


Zach Pavlicek didn’t consider himself a hero for helping rescue a couple from their burning home in Dunn Center on a cold December night.


Dunn County Herald
It was just something you do, he said.
North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp thinks otherwise. She thanked Pavlicek and others who were involved in the dramatic rescue of Mike and Rene Lantz.
In a letter dated Feb. 17, Heitkamp commended them for their quick response to the house fire in Dunn Center.
“You, your friends, and other community members showed true heroism when you all came together in a moment of imminent danger to rescue Mike and Rene Lantz,” she said in the letter. “Had you all not acted swiftly and with purpose on that cold, dark night, the incident surely would have had a tragic ending.”
“Thank you for your selfless actions and showing by example what it means to ‘take care of our own.” You truly exemplify what a ‘Home Town Hero’ is,” the letter said.
“Home Town Hero” indeed.
“North Dakota’s communities are filled with every day heroes like Zach, who selflessly step up to the plate when an emergency calls,” said Heitkamp. “Saying thank you is the least we can do to recognize Zach’s and his friends’ heroic actions. By shining a spotlight on their courageous acts it will hopefully inspire others to step-up when their neighbors are in need, so that together we can build stronger and safer communities,” Heitkamp said.
Pavlicek downplayed what they did then, and he still feels that way today.
“I just did what anybody would do,” Pavlicek said Wednesday. “I didn’t think there was going to be this kind of recognition.”
He said the recognition should go to the entire community. Everybody helped, he said.
Mike and Rene were pulled out of their burning house at 15 First St. West by Pavlicek, Daniel Binek and Jake Blackford. They had been having dinner at the DC Pub and Grub when a patron stepped out of the restaurant and noticed fire coming from a house on the next block.
The three men immediately rushed to the scene. While en route, Pavlicek – himself a volunteer fireman – called 911 as he was running to the fire.
Binek is a longtime close friend of the couple and he knew their habits, so he figured they would be home and watching TV in the bedroom.
The men, who were joined by other members of the close-knit community, went around to the other side of the house where there was an entrance leading to the bedroom.
Thick smoke filled the house and the flames kept getting higher and hotter. The men broke down a slide glass door and entered the house. The smoke was thick, so thick the men couldn’t see and made it almost impossible to breathe.
While wading through the smoke, Binek found Rene. She was conscious but was slowly slipping into darkness in the blackness of the smoke.
“I felt hands on my arms and legs and somebody was pulling me out,” Rene said during an interview after she was released from the hospital a week after the fire.
They carried her out into the cold night – and clean fresh air. While others scrambled for blankets to keep her warm, the men went back into the house.
Binek found Mike, who was unconscious. He was carried out of the inferno and emergency safety procedures were applied. He was revived and both taken to different medical facilities where they recovered and were released.
Mike and Rene lost everything they had that night. But the community raised donations for the couple. They have a place to live. They are forever grateful.
“Home Town Hero?”
You bet, Mike said.
“Hell yeah, they’re heroes. They put their lives on the line for us. They didn’t hesitate.”

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